France Go de Ina finishes 8th in Belmont Stakes
Form and effort were not enough for France Go de Ina from Japan, who came in last out of eight in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5, at Belmont Park in New York.
Betting favorite Essential Quality won the final race of the American Triple Crown over Hot Rod Charlie by a length and a quarter after a duel down the homestretch. The Brad Cox-trained colt cut a time of 2 minutes, 27.11 seconds over 2,400 meters. It was the first Triple Crown victory for Cox.
A pure dirt runner through his six career starts, France Go de Ina, trained by Hideyuki Mori, was coming off seventh place in the Preakness on May 15 at Pimlico, the second leg of the series. He was only the second Japan-based horse to run in the race after Lani in 2016.
For Saturday, there was a change in hands from Joel Rosario to Ricardo Santana, Jr., who pushed France Go de Ina - who went off at odds of 27-1 - from the start of the 153rd Belmont Stakes to keep up with Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World.
That which France Go de Ina managed to do until the far turn, where he appeared to lose steam as Luis Saez made his move to nudge Essential Quality towards the front. A crack from Santana’s whip made little difference as the eventual winner and Hot Rod Charlie turned it into a match race. Third-place Rombauer, winner of the Preakness, lagged more than 11 lengths behind.
By the time the rest of the field turned for home, France Go de Ina was well out of the picture. Santana then eased him in.
Both Santana and Mori had been confident about the France Go de Ina’s fitness but it appears the added distance of 500 meters doomed him.
“The horse was in fine condition and hustled from the gate but it looked like he just wore out in the end. As the jockey said, I’m getting the feeling 1,600 meters is the limit,” Mori said.
“He doesn’t like being covered in sand so we had him go from the beginning. But in hindsight it drove up the pace, making it a very tough race for him. He was OK afterwards though. No problems from what I saw.”
Added Santana, “He was in really good form and we got off to a good start. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a difficult race for him with others we had to chase. But he ran as hard as he could. Personally, I think he’s better off around a mile.”
France Go de Ina’s next start remains to be seen. He arrived in the United States on May 5, quarantined in Los Angeles and arrived at Pimlico three days later. Before flying stateside from Japan, he raced in the UAE Derby on March 27 - his first graded race - in which he was sixth out of 14.
France Go de Ina, by Unbridled’s Song’s son Will Take Charge out of Dreamy Blues, was purchased at the 2019 Keeneland September Sale for $100,000.
He races under the colors of Yuji Inaida.